The potential for hydropower to play a significant and environmentally-valuable role in meeting future electricity needs was highlighted yesterday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a recently redeveloped small hydropower facility.Washington, DC – May 25, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The 6.1 megawatt Higley facility, located on the Raquette River in Colton, New York, is owned by Reliant Energy. “We have seen very little new hydropower development in this country over the past 10 years,” said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of NHA. “We are delighted to see that Reliant has shown we can expand hydropower capacity in a responsible manner while cooperating with various stakeholders. Considering our growing energy needs, it’s refreshing to see companies interested in meeting those needs by further tapping into our nation’s great hydropower resource.” Reliant’s project operation license was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February, 2002 and reconstruction of the site began soon thereafter. The redeveloped Higley plant began operating in September 2003, with an increased generating capacity of 6.1 megawatts. The facility’s original output was 5.0 megawatts. Estimated energy output from the four new electricity-generating turbines is 39,948 megawatt-hours-per-year. Such upgrades have proven themselves as an effective way to gain electrical generation without the lengthy and sometime contentious process of constructing “brand new” facilities. According to NHA, the Department of Energy (DOE) in 1999 identified 21,000 megawatts of unused hydropower potential at existing dams in the U.S., and if developed, this potential would meet the yearly energy needs for 6.9 million homes resulting in 42 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions. Of the 21,000 megawatts of potential identified by DOE, approximately 4,300 megawatts of new hydropower capacity could be achieved by simply further developing the nation’s existing hydropower infrastructure through efficiency improvements and capacity additions, according to the NHA. This represents enough power to meet the electricity needs of the states of New Hampshire and Vermont. Put another way, it is enough yearly power for 1.4 million homes. “With a great deal of untapped hydropower capacity available at existing dams, it is in our country’s best interest to develop this potential electricity. By relying more on hydropower, as Reliant has done with Higley, we can meet our growing electricity needs and at the same time fight air pollution and global warming,” said Ciocci. Hydropower presently provides approximately eight percent of the nation’s electricity and over 75 percent of its renewable energy. Electricity generated from hydropower is consumed in 48 states.